Long before I started working at Recyclebank, I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to make a point of avoiding waste. That’s why I focus instead on how I can be more efficient with time, money, and resources. Thankfully, working toward a zero-waste future is our company’s ultimate goal, so I’m always learning how to improve my own daily habits.
Even in an office like ours, it sometimes seems like sending materials to landfills is unavoidable. That’s why our teammate Karen came up with a great idea for how we should celebrate Earth Day this year: we’re making it a Zero-Waste Day around the office. While that might sound ambitious, once we started planning it together, it was surprising how simple it’ll be. Here are some of the things we’re going to be doing, and they’re all things that you could also try to incorporate into your daily routines, too:
- Morning Coffee: We’re skipping the coffee shops and single-serve pods and brewing it ourselves the old-fashioned way. Once we’re done with the grounds, we’re going to collect them along with the paper filter and store them for composting.
- Sustainable (And Social) Lunches: Too many times, we’re so busy that we have to grab lunch and eat it at our desk. (Yes, it even happens at Recyclebank!) But since it’s Earth Day, we’re going to have a potluck meal brought in with totally reusable containers and serveware. Fruit and veggie scraps will be composted and leftovers will be stored (or maybe taken home for a free dinner). You don’t need to get your whole office involved if you want to participate; you could start by simply packing your own lunch!
- Plastic Film Roundup: Even when most of the components of food packaging are recyclable, there are some parts that might have plastic film, which can’t be recycled at the curb. So even if we do our best to shop with reusable bags and avoid all of the other plastic film you usually encounter, we’ll probably end up with some of it. That’s why we’re going to collect what we have and drop it off at a plastic film recycling drop-off location at a grocery store close by.
- Take Away the Trash Cans: Sometimes by force of habit, we throw away materials that can be composted, recycled, or diverted from a landfill some other way. By removing the trash cans, it’ll inspire us to think more about the materials we dispose of and remind us that there’s always a better solution than letting valuable resources go to waste.
- Drop Off the Compost: I mentioned a few times how we’re planning on composting a lot of our food waste. This is because it’s pretty easy and definitely necessary. Only 3 percent of food waste gets diverted from landfills nationwide, and in New York City it can be as easy as dropping off scraps and unused fruits, veggies, bread, and paper products at farmers’ markets nearby. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard (I’m not), you could also start your own compost pile and dispose of food scraps there.
That’s what we’re all going to work on together in the office, but I’ve got another surprise up my sleeve. I’ve been home-brewing beer for over a year now and I wanted to find a way to repurpose the grain that’s leftover from the brewing process. Over the weekend, I’m going to grind that spent grain down to make flour that I’ll use to make bread to share with our potluck. I’m not sure how the bread’s going to come out, but I love the fact that something so savory can also help me cut down on waste.
Want to see how our Zero-Waste Day is going? We’ll be posting pics throughout the day on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ZeroWasteDay. Follow along, share your own ideas, or get inspired to make every day Zero-Waste Day. (Fingers crossed I can get the bread to look good without using any filters.)